AIGA logo
Founded 1914 (1914)
Type Professional Association
  • 70 chapters across the country[2]
Area served
United States
over 25,000[1]
Official languages
Key people
Board President Su Mathews Hale, Executive Director: Julie Anixter[3]

The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) is a professional organization for design.[1][4] Its members practice all forms of communication design, including graphic design, typography, interaction design, branding and identity. The organization's aim is to be the standard bearer for professional ethics and practices for the design profession.[1][5] There are currently over 22,000 members and 66 chapters, and more than 200 student groups around the nationwide.[6]


In 1911, Fred Goudy, Alfred Stieglitz, and W. A. Dwiggins came together to discuss the creation of an organization that was committed to individuals passionate about communication design.[7] In 1913, president of the National Arts Club, John G. Agar, announced the formation of The American Institute of Graphic Arts during the eighth annual exhibition of “The Books of the Year.” The National Arts Club was instrumental in the formation of AIGA in that they helped to form the committee to plan to organize the organization.[8] The committee formed included Charles DeKay and William B. Howland and officially formed the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1914.[9] Howland, publisher and editor of The Outlook, was elected president.[10] The goal of the group was to promote excellence in the graphic design profession through its network of local chapters throughout the country.[5]

In 1920, AIGA began awarding medals to "individuals who have set standards of excellence over a lifetime of work or have made individual contributions to innovation within the practice of design." Winners have been recognized for design, teaching, writing or leadership of the profession and may honor individuals posthumously.[11]

In 1982, the New York Chapter was formed and the organization began creating local chapters to decentralize leadership.[7]

Represented by Washington, D.C. arts advocate and attorney, James Lorin Silverberg, Esq., The Washington, D.C. Chapter of AIGA, was organized as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Incorporated, Washington, D.C. on September 6, 1984.[12]

Symbol sign project

Main article: DOT pictograms

The AIGA, in collaboration with the US Department of Transportation, produced 50 standard symbols to be used on signs "in airports and other transportation hubs and at large international events". The first 34 symbols were published in 1974, receiving a Presidential Design Award. The remaining 16 designs were added in 1979.[13]

Annual competitions


In 2012, AIGA replaced all its competitions with a single competition called "Cased"[14] (formerly called "Justified"[15]). The stated aim of the competition is to demonstrate "the collective success and impact of the design profession by celebrating the best in contemporary design through case studies".[14]

50 Books/50 Covers

Between 1941 and 2011 AIGA sponsored a juried contest for the 50 best designed books published in the previous year, entitled "50 Books/50 Covers". Jurors included booksellers, book publishers, and designers such as George Salter.[16]

On February 17, 2012, AIGA announced that it would cease organizing the contest and that future contests would be organized by Design Observer.[17] This move has been criticized.[18]


The 365 was an annual design competition for all graphic design other than book design.[18] The last “365” competition was organized in 2011,[19] after which it was replaced by the "Cased" competition.


AIGA organized two conferences, the AIGA Design Conference and GAIN: AIGA Design and Business Conference. Both conferences were held biennially and the two were held in alternating years. Beginning in 2016, the AIGA Design Conference will be held annually with the 2016 conference held in Las Vegas.[20]

AIGA Design Conference

The first AIGA Design Conference took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 1985.

Past AIGA Design Conferences include:[21]

The 2015 Conference was hosted by Roman Mars.[22]

National Board Members

As of 2016, the national board consists of[3]


Between 2005 and 2009, AIGA was briefly a member of Icograda (now called Ico-D). In 2010, it withdrew from the international organization, citing financial reasons.[23]

International membership

AIGA opened up membership beyond local chapters in 2014, benefiting creative professionals living and working outside of the USA.



In 1947 AIGA started publishing the AIGA Journal of Graphic Design (ISSN 0736-5322),[24] which in 2000 was renamed Trace: AIGA Journal of Design (ISSN 1471-3497).[25] The journal ceased publication in 2003.[26]

Between 2000 and 2003 AIGA published Loop: AIGA Journal of Interaction Design Education, an “interactive, web-based” research journal on interaction and visual interface design co-sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Design Studies.[27]

Between 2004 and 2011 AIGA published Voice: AIGA Journal of Design, an “an online publication for the discussion of design matters” listing Steven Heller as its editor.[28][29] Although the journal was stated in “What AIGA is doing and why”[30] and had been cited in scholarly research,[31][32] after AIGA revamped its website in May 2011[33] it was subsumed under AIGA’s main site and ceased to exist as a distinct entity.


As part of its strategy to “publish critical thinking about design and designing”, AIGA also “copublishes selected works by thought leaders in design”[34] under the imprint of “AIGA Design Press”.[30] Published titles include

AIGA has also published the periodically updated AIGA professional practices in graphic design[36] including a translation to simplified Chinese.[37]

Other publication activities

AIGA also maintains the AIGA Design Archives, which was identified as a publishing activity.[30]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 About page About AIGA.
  2. AIGA Find a local chapter, List of AIGA chapters in the U.S.
  3. 1 2 List of members of the 2016 AIGA Board of Directors
  4. "AIGA name".
  5. 1 2 Blanchard, Margaret A. (2013-12-19). History of the Mass Media in the United States: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. ISBN 9781135917425.
  6. Reviews, C. T. I. (2016-10-16). Meggs History of Graphic Design. Cram101 Textbook Reviews. ISBN 9781478426530.
  7. 1 2 "AIGA". Retrieved 2016-10-21.
  8. "ARTS CLUB WARNED OF 'THOUGHT TRUST'; While It Plans for Graphic Arts, Bacheller Also Warns of Our Europeanization. NEW THEMES FOR NOVELS Getting Away from Work, He Finds Butcher's Daughter Cultivates Only Ease and the Graces Now.". Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  9. "How Our Quarter Century Began". AIGA | the professional association for design. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  10. Steven Heller; Nathan Gluck. "Seventy-five years of AIGA". Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  11. "AIGA Medalists List". AIGA | the professional association for design. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
  12. "District of Columbia Corporate Records". The District of Columbia.
  13. "Symbol Signs". AIGA. 2009. Archived from the original on October 10, 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2009.
  14. 1 2 Cased competition, Cased: Case Studies for the AIGA Design Archives
  15. AIGA. "Justified: AIGA Annual Design Competition". Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  16. Fifty Books of the year 1963, The American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York, 1964.
  17. AIGA (February 17, 2012). "AIGA and Design Observer Partner on "50 Books/50 Covers"". Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  18. 1 2 Scher, Paula (6 April 2012). "AIGA: Unjustified". Print Magazine. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  19. AIGA. "365 | Design Effectiveness Competition". Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  20. "AIGA Design Conference". Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  21. "A Tradition Over Time". AIGA. Retrieved October 1, 2009.
  22. Design Conference, AIGA Design Conference 2015 at New Orleans.
  23. Grefe, Richard (January 25, 2010). "Why has AIGA withdrawn from Icograda?". Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  24. AIGA. "AIGA History Timeline". Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  25. "AIGA journal of graphic design / [Periodical]". OCAD U Library Catalogue. Retrieved July 18, 2014. Name changed to Trace: AIGA Journal of Design after v.18 no.2 (2000)
  26. "Trace / [Periodical]". OCAD U Library Catalogue. Retrieved July 18, 2014. Subtitled: AIGA Journal of Design. Publication ceased as of April 2003..
  27. "About Loop". Loop. AIGA. June 2013. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  28. "Voice: AIGA Journal of Design". Archived from the original on March 28, 2004. Retrieved July 18, 2014. Consulting Editor Steven Heller.
  29. "Voice: AIGA Journal of Design". Archived from the original on May 15, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2014. Editor Steven Heller.
  30. 1 2 3 AIGA. "What AIGA is doing and why: 2011" (PDF). p. 35. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  31. Muir, Clive (June 2008). "Smiling With Customers". Business Communication Quarterly. Sage Publications. 71 (2): 241–246. doi:10.1177/1080569908317320.
  32. Julier, Guy (May 2005). "Urban Designscapes and the Production of Aesthetic Consent". Urban Studies. Routledge. 42 (5/6): 869–887. doi:10.1080/00420980500107474.
  33. AIGA. "FAQs: About". Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  34. Zeldman, Jeffrey (July 6, 2006). Designing with Web Standards (2nd ed.). New Riders. p. xx. ISBN 0-321-38555-1.
  35. Parkins, Cameron (December 22, 2008). "AIGA Design Press: Digital Foundations, CC-Licensed Media Design Instruction". Creative Commons. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  36. "American Institute of Graphic Arts". OCLC WorldCat Identities. OCLC. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  37. AIGA China. "Design Business & Ethics, Chinese Edition". Retrieved July 19, 2014.

External links

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